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Rebuilding Iraq


Can US troops be effective
in a policing role in Iraq?

As the military mission here scales down to searches for small pockets of resistance and weapons caches, the American-led forces face a new problem, which one commander called a potential crisis: controlling the residents of Baghdad as they venture into the streets in dramatically increasing numbers.

The combat veterans of this three-week war now must cope with policing crowds who are threatening to overwhelm checkpoints, are not responding to commands to halt, and have begun looting since US forces ousted organized resistance here, military officials said. While the US military has some experience performing this sort of police action, it is not a preferred mission for political reasons as well as practical security concerns.

How should the US go about restoring order in Baghdad and other cities?

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A few public executions will go a long way to restoring peace. The world thinks we're cowboys lets live up to that classic westerns movie image!

Rob, Brookline

Since the Generals (Wallace, among others) who are actually there have said they thought they had barely enough troops to do the job they were assigned to do -- take out the regime -- then it seems unlikely that they could also have the manpower to serve as a police force, a job they were NOT trained to do.

Rocco, Malden

Sure, but if that's the plan then get used to the recent incidents of suicide bombings. US troops will be wearing bulls eyes on their backs for a long time to come thus it is very important that we get some help with the rebuilding effort and get out as soon as possible.

Tim, Lexington

Let the UN be the police. They didn't want to help us get Hussien out of the country and now are begging us to help form a government. This would be a great opportunity for them. We are busy trying to secure other regions. Let them deal with the looters.

clearhead, anytown

These are people who have been so oppressed for so long. they need a firm hand to help guide them into a place they can feel good about.

Franny, Woburn

They have to be. Not only because the Iraqi people deserve a good government to replace Saddam's regime, but because of the very real threat of religious fundamentalists in the region. To protect US interests, Iraq needs to function as a stable, secure country. Virtually the entire Iraqi population is armed and there is no love lost between the Sunni, Shia, and Kurds, who all view each other with suspicion and dislike for a long list of reasons. The US (or whoever heads up the "peacekeeping force") needs to serve as a police force because simply arming these competing factions and telling them to "enforce the laws" will not work. The US needs to sink some legitimate manpower and resources into this endeavor - building a civil society from scratch is not easy. As much as the military wants to say, "we are not policemen," that's exactly what they need to be. If the US truly wants to deal with terrorism by replacing tyrants with democracies, the military will need to adjust dramatically to this new role. A failure to do so will simply result in chaos...which in many ways is worse than an iron-fisted tyrant from a global security perspective.

Jason, Quincy

Shoot first, ask questions later.

Cowboy, Boston

No, cause they can't rely on planes, bombs and tanks when things get tough. Besides I think they'll be too busy playing cards with a deck of 55.

Chris, ca

I have no doubt of their ability to police the situation. However, the question should be: Should they police? We set a bad precedent if we put ourselves into a prolonged “policing” status. We need to get out of that country as soon as possible. We have done enough damage to Iraq and to our reputation. We live in a global economy. We cannot ignore the rest of the world’s opinion of us and our actions. We may have “won” the war, but we have lost a lot of international respect. The international backlash will be felt for decades. This is what bush and a lot of pro-war people fail to recognize.

Denis , Malden MA

Regardless of how and why we got to this point part of reaching a successful outcome will be the coalition forces acting as a police force until a new government system can be put in place. Order must be restored, with freedom comes responsibility. The best scenario would be coalition forces working alongside Free Iraqi forces or possibly Iraqi-Americans willing to help stabilize their homeland.

Bill, Boston

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